The return to the Red Bull Ring for the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup did not disappoint this past Saturday as two of the series’ drivers were able to score their first career victories in the Sprint and Feature races. In what fans may consider to be the most competitive race of the 2023 campaign so far, it was the points leader, Jordan Caruso, scoring the victory in the Sprint race over the reigning series champion Diogo Pinto. In the Feature, it was rookie Gustavo Ariel scoring the win in dramatic fashion over Alejandro Sánchez and Pinto after a spirited battle in the late stages.
Sánchez scored his second TAG Heuer Pole Award in a row and led the field off of the grid for the Sprint cleanly. Caruso stayed tucked up behind for the first half, content to save until he saw the defending champion in Pinto riding his bumper. Just past halfway, Caruso made the move and it stuck. A train of Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 992 cars managed to move Sánchez all the way back to fifth, behind Pinto, Sebastian Job and Zac Campbell. Caruso held on to win the Sprint, but the invert would see him start in eighth for the Feature. After some contact between Bryn Collins and Jamie Fluke, the invert would fall to Moreno Sirica on the pole position for the Feature alongside Fluke.
Fluke led early as Sirica fell into the clutches of the field. Caruso was stuck in the midfield, unable to make any ground up. Suddenly, it was Sánchez and Pinto knocking on the door for the lead with Fluke giving way on Lap 8. Once again, Sánchez found himself in the top position in defense mode, and with four laps to go, Pinto began to make his move. The rest of the field managed to catch the two front runners and as they fought for the lead in Turn 1, it was the Brazilian, Ariel, taking full advantage and taking the lead. Sánchez continued to fight back, but Ariel had enough to hang on for the victory.
Caruso, in the meanwhile, was collected in an incident while racing in the midpack, forcing the points leader down the running order. His rival for the championship to this point, Charlie Collins, struggled throughout the event, managing a 25th place finish in the Sprint despite crossing the line in 10th due to an unserved penalty at the end of the event. Collins managed to fight his way up to a seventh place Feature finish while Caruso rebounded for a 13th. With Pinto scoring double podiums, the points battle is now a three horse race among the defending champ in Pinto, the longtime contender in Collins and the sophomore sensation in Caruso who leads them all.
The All-Stars did not disappoint either. Preceding the Supercup races, the Porsche All-Stars series also took to the Red Bull Ring, once again racing in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series champion Casey Kirwan took the pole position for the Sprint, but the battle from two weeks ago continued as Pablo “The Pulpo” Lopez took the early lead from the grid start. Tyson “Quirkitized” Meier and Emily “Emree” Jones battled for the final spot on the Sprint podium, but Kirwan managed to take the point from Lopez and yet another win on the season. After the full invert on the grid, Christian “keny500” Ortega pulled away as the field tried to figure out who would emerge from the backside of the field. Lopez was the lone survivor as Kirwan, Meier and Jones were all collected in one of the many incidents early on. Lopez took the fight to Ortega while Jaroslav “Jardier” Honzik sat back in third. After contact for the lead that took Lopez out of contention, Jardier took the lead as Ortega recovered the second. On the final lap, Ortega took back the point and went on to collect his first career victory in the series.
Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup feature results from the Red Bull Ring were as follows:
|3||7||1||Diogo C. Pinto||20||-1.505||0||1:30.738||66|
|19||29||92||Mathias Stokbæk Jensen||20||-16.085||0||1:30.981||7|
|27||12||10||Christopher Dambietz||16||-4 L||0||1:30.973||9|
|28||22||27||Simone Maria Marcenò||13||-7 L||0||1:30.974||0|
|29||17||24||Lasse Bak||12||-8 L||0||1:31.902||4|
Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup points through five rounds are as follows:
- Jordan Caruso, 302
- Charlie Collins, 271
- Diogo Pinto, 270
- Alejandro Sanchez, 229
- Sebastian Job, 213
- Cooper Webster, 185
- Zac Campbell, 184
- Yohann Harth, 169
- Jamie Fluke, 141
- Alessandro Bico, 111
The 2023 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup season now sits at the midway point with five race events in the mirror and five more to go, the next being a return to the United States for a day at Watkins Glen. Coverage will kick off on Saturday, April 8 at 18:00 GMT (2PM ET) with the All-Star action, before the pros do battle at 19:00 GMT (3PM ET).
Images via Justin Melillo